Jean Lafitte National Historical Park and Preserve
Chef Emile's Palmetto Trail Log
January 3, 2010
Well it is finally open!!! Actually, I missed the opening! Who knew that the trail opened in March of 2009?? I would have walked it before now! But, better late than never!
We started the trail at the trailhead in the Bayou Coquille parking lot. At about 3:30pm with the temperature at 44°F, clear skies, light wind. The trail leads in a generally south by southeast direction towards the Visitor's Center, about a mile away. The parking lot closes at 5pm, and you can park your car outside of the gates if you think that you won't return by 5pm, we thought we were OK, and made it back in plenty of time.
I have marked up the official map of the trail and added some notes!
The trail is 100% composite deck board, (plastic timber to look like decking), and it is built up about 18 inches above the marsh. That is really cool because it is easily accessible by wheelchair and baby strollers. As you can see by the pics, there is a low protective edge that makes in almost impossible to be pushed or fall over the sides.
I have said this before, but every time I visit Jean Lafitte, the experience is always different. This walk was the best for solitude. (I attribute this to the January weather), We saw maybe 6 - 8 people, but there was little sound. If you notice, Ann (above) had a walking stick with a rubber base, THAT was COOL, because it made little noise. Mine was just a pointy stick and boomed against the decking. I like using walking sticks whenever I hike, because you can poke anything within reach, it gives me a kind of touchy feely sensation without really touching the object. And of course the obvious, helping in balance and fatigue.
The Palmetto Trail is apply named, because it is almost entirely lined with stands of palmetto fans. They are a perennial and as such are always green! Since our hike was in the winter, many of the trees were dormant and without foliage. The palmettos were the most obvious display of growth. We could see deeper into the swamp, but because of the cold. little stirred, hence the increased solitude. We saw a several small birds, and a squirrel, but little else.
The below are Trailpoints calculated by my Garmin GPSMAP 76CSx.
Since it was late in the day, and somewhat chilly for a New Orleanian we didn't take any water, BUT, later in the year I would suggest to take something to drink, you will get thirsty!
In hindsight, I would recommend that you park in the Visitor's Center Parking Lot and take the trail from that location.
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